Since there are various kinds of violin strings available, you might be wondering which ones are the best for you. In a nutshell, it fully depends on your demands in terms of sound, playability, lifespan and price, so read on and learn more.

Comment bien choisir ses cordes de violon ?

Gut Strings

Back in the day, violin strings were made exclusively of animal gut. With a core made of sheep or cow intestines wound with silver or aluminium, gut strings were most violinist’s go-to up until the early 20th century. Nowadays, gut strings are mainly found on historic (baroque) violins, though they’re technically fit for any type of violin and playing style which is why you’ll still hear them today. The average gut string has a lower tension than a steel or synthetic string, making them easier to play since they’re less rigid. That said, gut strings are the hardest to work with when it comes to bowing, plus they have a shorter lifespan and drop out of tune quicker which is due the fact that they’re made of organic material.

Steel Strings

Steel violin strings were introduced as an alternative to gut strings at the start of the 20th century. While gut strings were being produced by artisans, steel strings could be mass-produced which made them a lot cheaper. In comparison, steel strings offer a brighter, tighter sound, improved tuning stability and a relatively long lifespan. On the downside, they do pack less harmonics than both gut and synthetic strings.

Synthetic Strings

Most violinists today opt for synthetic strings, since they combine the advantages of gut strings (full, warm sound and supple playability) with the advantages of steel strings (stable and durable). Austrian company Thomastik-Infeld were the first to launch a successful set of synthetic strings halfway through the 20th century. These strings were made of Perlon: a remarkably strong type of nylon.

Pros and Cons

Below, we’ve included an overview of the pros and cons of the various violin strings you can get:

Gut Steel Synthetic
Pros Pros Pros
Warm Sound Tuning Stability Value for Money
Lots of Harmonics Lifespan Lifespan
Supple Feel Bright Sound Tuning Stability
Cons Cons Cons
Tuning Stability Few Harmonics Long Break-In Time
Lifespan Rigid Feel
Price Price Price
High Low Average to High
  • Bear in mind that the sound that any string shapes is also influenced by the violin itself and how the instrument is built and set up in terms of the sound post, bracing and bridge.
  • Also, if you decide to replace steel or synthetic strings with a set of gut strings, you might have to let a luthier or violin-maker adjust the set-up first. If you’re swapping out steel strings for synthetic strings, you’ve got nothing to worry about.

Comment bien choisir ses cordes de violon ?

Light, Medium or Heavy Tension?

  • Light: thinner strings with a low tension. The sound is bright and slightly softer, but the bow response is good.
  • Heavy: thicker strings with a high tension. The volume is higher but the bow response isn’t as direct.
  • Medium: fall in between light and heavy tension strings, making them suitable for any playing style.

The right string tension for you depends entirely on your playing style. If your style involves exerting more pressure on the strings with your bow, then you’re best off with a set of heavy strings. If you’re all about speed and souplesse, go for a pack of light or medium tension strings.


  • Be patient after replacing your old violin strings. It can take up to a few days for the tension as well as the sound to optimise.
  • Since it might shift ever so slightly, always check the position of the bridge after you’re done replacing the strings of your violin. If you can tell the bridge leans forward a little after you’ve tuned up, make sure that you straighten it again.
  • Clean the strings by rubbing on a bit of rosin with a cloth every time you wrap up a playing session.

What are your favourite violin strings? Let us know in the comments below!

See Also

» Violin Strings
» Violin Tuners
» Acoustic Violins
» Electric Violins
» Children’s Violins
» Violin Stands
» Violin Books
» Violin Cases

» How Do I Tune My Violin?
» 5 Violin Tips for Beginners
» How to tune your drum kit
» How to tune your guitar or bass

Guestblogger Nicolas Penel
Nicolas Penel is a highly versatile violinist and a big fan of chamber music as well as string quartets. He has been awarded multiple international prizes for his playing and has performed on many famous stages across Europe, including the Salle Gaveau in Paris and the Salzburger Festspiele. Nicolas also has more than 25 years of experience as a violin teacher and shares his knowledge with both beginner and advanced musicians via his website Violinotech.
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